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Matilda II: The Forgotten Queen (ePub)

P&S History > British History P&S History > Royal History Women of History

By Joanna Arman
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
File Size: 35.9 MB (.epub)
Pages: 176
Illustrations: Integrated black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526794239
Published: 11th July 2023


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The wife of King Henry I and the mother of the Empress Maud is a woman and a Queen forgotten to history. She is frequently conflated with her daughter or her mother-in-law. She was born the daughter of the King of Scotland and an Anglo-Saxon princess. Her name was Edith, but her name was changed to Matilda at the time of her marriage.

The Queen who united the line of William the Conqueror with the House of Wessex lived during an age marked by transition and turbulence. She married Henry in the first year of the 12th century and for the eighteen years of her rule aided him in reforming the administrative and legal system due to her knowledge of languages and legal tradition. Together she and her husband founded a series of churches and arranged a marriage for their daughter to the Holy Roman Emperor. Matilda was a woman of letters to corresponded with Kings, Popes, and prelates, and was respected by them all.

Matilda’s greatest legacy was continuity: she united two dynasties and gave the Angevin Kings the legitimacy they needed so much. It was through her that the Empress Matilda and Henry II were able to claim the throne. She was the progenitor of the Plantagenet Kings, but the war and conflict which followed the death of her son William led to a negative stereotyping by Medieval Chroniclers. Although they saw her as pious, they said she was a runaway nun and her marriage to Henry was cursed.

This book provides a much-needed re-evaluation of Edith/Matilda’s role and place in the history of the Queens of England.

I never knew about Matilda II but I’m so glad I do now. I learned about a woman who was smart, creative and a role model. She was fascinating to read about. This book bring medieval history to life as you see the court and characters surrounding Matilda. Definitely check it out!

NetGalley, A.M. Flynn

I loved reading every word.

Read the Full Review Here

History... The Interesting Bits

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Now, this is a book I have been waiting for!

And it is a book that has needed to be written for a long time. How useful it would have been when I was writing my own book, Women of the Anarchy. A complete biography of Matilda of Scotland – also referred to as Matilda II to distinguish her from her predecessor, Matilda of Flanders. As the wife of Henry I of England Matilda of Scotland is a woman often neglected and overlooked by historians. And yet, Queen Matilda was a truly remarkable queen and one who was well respected during her lifetime. Born as the eldest daughter of Malcolm III Canmore, King of Scots, and his saintly wife, Margaret of Wessex, and given the name Edith at birth, her name was changed to the more Norman name, Matilda, on her marriage to Henry I.

Joanna Arman expertly guides us through Queen Matilda’s life, from her childhood in a convent, supervised by her mother’s sister, Christina, through the various suitors who came calling to the controversy over her marriage to King Henry. Matilda II: The Forgotten Queen delves deep into the investigation into whether or not Matilda had ever been professed as a nun and presents the evidence and arguments for both sides. It is a fascinating study.

Queen Matilda’s role, as a queen, wife and mother, is examined in great detail, demonstrating her influence, both on her family and on England and Normandy. Matilda’s piety is shown as an anchoring force throughout her life, influencing the way she approaches problems and relationships. The queen is shown to be a deeply devout, kind and benevolent woman, with a strong sense of purpose and destiny.

Matilda II: The Forgotten Queen covers every aspect of the queen’s life, drawing on chronicles and charters to present what we know in a clear, engaging narrative that brings this often-overlooked queen to life. The book is accompanied by extensive notation and a through bibliography – I was flattered to discover my own book, Defenders of the Norman Crown: Rise and Fall of the Warenne Earls of Surrey, cited as a refence. It is an excellent biography, thoroughly researched and beautifully presented. I loved reading every word.

NetGalley, Sharon Connolly

Article: The queen behind the veil

BBC History

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Excellent telling of the life of Matilda, wife of Henry I. Joanna Arman has a fine knowledge of this fascinating, clever and wily Queen. In a period where women were mere vassals, Matilda seizes her chances to ensure her name is not forgotten in the history of royalty. I found this a very easy read which is saying something considering the commonality of names such as the other Matilda and many Henrys. An easy 5 stars for a fascinating insight to her life.

NetGalley, Carol Elizabeth Keogh

I never knew about Matilda II but I’m so glad I do now. I learned about a woman who was smart, creative and a role model. She was fascinating to read about. This book bring medieval history to life as you see the court and characters surrounding Matilda. Definitely check it out!

NetGalley, Naomi Sutherland

An interesting history of Matilda, wife of Henry I, daughter of the King of Scotland who was able to bring a degree of unity to the country. Due to her husbands frequent forays abroad probably ruled the country in his absence. A fascinating read.

NetGalley, Rolf Bachelor

An interesting read from a different historical perspective.

NetGalley, Elizabeth Ridler

Arman brings the forgotten first wife of King Henry I of England, Edith of Scotland and Matilda II, Queen of England, to life in this new book. Accompanied by pertinent images that speak to Matilda II’s importance to Christianity and the English Crown in the twelfth century, Arman brings the life of a great medieval queen to the forefront of history. Arman weaves in the relevant historical events and individuals into Matilda II’s narrative, with appropriate detours into the life of her daughter Empress Maud, son William Adelin, sister Margaret of Scotland and Boulogne, and spiritual advisor Anselm, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Arman’s use of images and illustrations adds a level of tangibility and interaction to the text, with several locations still in existence across England today as markers of Matilda II’s quiet yet powerful influence as queen and regent. Arman’s familiarity with Matilda’s story allows the reader to take advantage of her knowledge and familiarity with this fascinating historical woman. Arman’s prose is engaging and compelling, full of interesting historical facts and connections to the large twelfth-century European world and even to the twenty-first century. Matilda II: The Forgotten Queen is an amazing and engaging portrait of a powerful medieval English queen.

NetGalley, Lily Amidon

Good book on a powerful but forgotten person from history. I've looked for a book on Matilda but had no luck, so was very pleased to find this book is very informative and enjoyable to read.

NetGalley, Jesse Lewis

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Joanna Arman's mother told her that her book was unputdownable, and indeed it is! It's strange that this likeable Queen, much beloved in her time, as been forgotten about, because she is certainly fascinating. Although some of the book is speculation, the author makes this highly-educated and intelligent Queen shine.

Matilda spent time in a convent as a girl, and was very upset about one of the nuns being cruel to her. In spite of this, she was accused of secretly being a nun herself, which supposedly cursed her marriage to Henry1! She was extremely pious, founding churches and helping charities, but there was no evidence that she was a secret nun. Matilda sometimes acted as regent when Henry was away, signing charters, and helping to administer the realm. She also may have been better-educated than Henry, helping hin with his legal reforms. She was also an excellent mother to her children, and even to Henry's illegitimate children, in some cases.

Matilda had to put up with a lot from Henry, who had many affairs. One of the most famous was with an attractive young woman called Nest. However, she and Henry appeared to get on well, and have a reasonably happy marriage. He was devastated when she died.

I especially liked the stories about Matilda's correspondence with Archbishop Anselm, and other high-ranking clerics. This is when her interesting personality really shows itself.

NetGalley, Lisa Sanderson

This is a fascinating biography of a little known English queen, Edith Matilda of Scotland, the first wife of King Henry I. She’s overshadowed by her famous daughter, the Empress Matilda, the first women to rule England (albeit briefly). Edith Matilda was the daughter of a Scottish king and a Saxon princess (who later became a saint). Her marriage to Henry I helped to legitimize Norman rule in England, because she had royal Saxon blood.

Joanna Arman does an excellent job of giving insights into her subject's life, using Matilda's letters to show her political role. We tend to think of women having little political power in the Middle Ages, and while they may not have wielded power in the traditional male sense, they could do so in other ways. Matilda serves as regent for her husband in the early years of their marriage, she oversees her children's education, and she corresponds with important figures such as churchmen.

I really enjoyed this look at the life of an often forgotten queen. It's a fitting tribute to Matilda's overlooked legacy.

NetGalley, Etta Kavanagh

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful, exciting book..enjoyed every moment and learnt a new topic.
I never knew about Matilda and found this book powerful.

NetGalley, Karen Bull

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is an entertaining and easy-to-read biography of Matilda, queen consort of England's Henry I. It's a good complement to the portrayal of of Matilda in Alison Weir's "Queens of the Conquest." My big takeaway from this book, which I didn't get from Weir's book, was how usurper King Stephen may have manipulated Matilda's pious reputation to repudiate the claim of Matilda's daughter, Empress Matilda (aka Maud), the rightful heir to the throne.

NetGalley, Andrea Romance

I found this an intriguing & informative read about a woman that history has sadly neglected.

NetGalley, Gayle Noble

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Matilda II: The Forgotten Queen by Joanna Arman fills a gap in historical biography. Matilda II's reign and achievements have received less attention from historians than they deserve.
Arman shows us that Matilda II was well-read and highly educated. She played a major role in administrative and legal matters and acted as regent during the king's absences.
The book is very well-researched and there are extensive notes for each chapter plus a bibliography of primary and secondary sources. The illustrations, including some original photographs, bring the book to life.
The author's writing style make this book a joy to read. Although it is a serious historical biography I found it as easy to read as a novel.
Highly recommended for anyone interested in the life of this fascinating queen.

NetGalley, Shirley Sinha

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I didn’t know anything about Matilda II so I was glad I was able to read this book. It was a great concept and I felt like I got to know this forgotten Queen. It was written well and in felt like Joanna Arman wrote this perfectly.

NetGalley, Kathryn McLeer

The amazing true tale of one of England’s stellar Queens, Edith/Matilda of Scotland, mother of Empress Matilda and grandmother of Henry II. Through her, the current royal family is descended from Alfred the Great and the first Kings of a United England, Her life is worth being remembered.

NetGalley, Caroline Palmer

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This was a fabulously written and researched book about Edith/then Matilda who went on to become known as Matilda of Scotland (originally christened Edith, 1080 – 1 May 1118), also known as Good Queen Maud, or Matilda of Blessed Memory, was Queen of England and Duchess of Normandy as the first wife of King Henry I. She acted as regent of England on several occasions during Henry's absences: in 1104, 1107, 1108 and 1111.

Her father was King Malcolm III of Scotland and her mother was Margaret of Wessex, known as being extremely pious and then being canonized. Mathilda was also a very pious woman and a very loyal, true wife to her husband. Although her husband Henry went on to father countless illegitimate children, they only had two children Matilda who went on to become Empress Matilda and William Adeline, the only air who unfortunately died on the White Ship disaster on November 25, 1120. Thankfully his mother predeceased him in 1118, and never witnessed his death.

This unfortunately left King Henry with no legitimate male heir, so he remarried in 1121 to Adeliza of Louvain.

I so enjoyed this book that I'm going to be looking further into the historical individuals and into the author to see if she's written any other books.

NetGalley, Sheri O'Neill

About Joanna Arman

Joanna Arman gained her love of Medieval History from childhood trips to castles, cathedrals, and Joust Weeks at Arundel Castles, before reading the Venerable Bede and watching Shakespeare’s history play as a graduate of the University of Winchester where she obtained a BA Degree in Medieval History quickly followed by a Masters.
She has a special interest in Medieval Women: not just Queens and noblewomen but also those lower down the social order, such as female landholders, businesswomen and female plaintiffs in marriage cases. Her first book was a biography of Aethelflaed, Lady of the Mercians which was published by Amberley in 2017.
She lives in Sussex, the county where she grew up, a stone’s throw away from the South Downs.

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